At the beginning of each new year, many of us sit down with a pencil and paper and make a list of “New Year’s Resolutions,” things we want to change about our current lifestyles. And we use the new year as a launching point for our new goals. We get super excited about all the things we are going to do to change the way we live in the year to come. And then, January 2 comes. Some of us are faithful to our resolutions, while others of us (including me!) have already forgotten our goals and instead have resorted to our normal everyday lives.
But here’s the thing I have realized over the years. When you want to set a goal for yourself, it doesn’t have to be at the start of a new year, or even at the start of a new semester. It can be as simple as waking up one morning with a goal in mind and setting your mind to getting it done. It can be as simple as realizing that there’s something you want to change about your own life and resolving to set a goal and follow through with it. It can be as simple as sitting in front of a computer screen one day in December and realizing that it’s up to you to fight for the change you want to see in the world.
However, there’s a catch. You have to actually follow through with that goal that you set. And, sure, it’s easy to say that you’re going to stick to your plans. It’s even easy to follow through for the first few days, weeks, or even months (if you’re lucky). But the point of setting a goal is eventually to keep your word and accomplish whatever you set out to complete, am I right? The point is to make that dream come true. So when I made it my goal to get 100 laptops to Egypt, I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing, and there are some days even now (almost a year later) when I still don’t know what I’m doing and I have to ask for help (read my next post for more about that). But that’s not the point. The point is that once I made that commitment back in December, it was the first time in a long while that I had made a serious goal and actually resolved to follow through with it, no matter what was going to happen.
And now, eleven months later, I would like to think that I am following through with that goal that I set. I would like to think that I am living my dream and doing everything and anything possible to make that dream come true. And let me tell you, that starting off is the hardest part. I was so excited about this idea for the first couple of days–telling my family and my friends all about my lofty goal to make a big difference in Egypt. And then after sitting down with my technology teacher to figure out how the heck I was going to get started (this was before we had realized that a partnership with a nonprofit organization was pretty much necessary in order to make this work), I started to get discouraged right away. I started to understand the size of this project and began to question myself for getting so excited about something that was probably never going to happen.
The point of this post, however, is to let you know that there is hope. Every time you set a goal for yourself, no matter what that goal is, you go through ups and downs. Periods when you’re so excited about getting your goal done that you can barely contain yourself. And then, moments later, periods when you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re wondering how on Earth you’re going to accomplish your goal and you’re mad at yourself for even thinking about it in the first place. Such ups and downs are inevitable, I can guarantee you. But once you get past that first downhill of anger and confusion and questions and concern, it’s only uphill from there. I promise you. That first downhill is designed to test your endurance, to determine the depth of your commitment, and to set in stone your goals. You don’t have to have all the questions answered when you are ready to commit, but you do have to know that you are willing to go through thick and thin and everything in between on your way to reach your goal.
And once you’re in it–once there’s no turning back and you’re on that uphill toward reaching your goal–I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that it’s the best feeling on Earth. Sure, you’re going to be stressed and worried and angry and sad sometimes, when things don’t go the way you want them to, or when you aren’t really sure what to do. But once you step back and understand that what you’re doing, no matter what it is, is fulfilling a goal and living a dream, you will develop a whole new passion for what you’re doing and you’ll be even more willing to get it done regardless of how much work and time and energy you will have to expend to get it. Because once you realize you’re living a dream, you will understand the importance of making that dream–your dream–come true.